Social Security: 4 Signs You’re Ready to Take Benefits in 2023

Social Security benefits can be a lifeline for many older Americans, but your claiming strategy can potentially make or break your retirement.

There are consequences to claiming too early, but waiting too long to file also has its drawbacks. Also, because everyone’s strategies will differ slightly, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach as to when you should begin claiming.

Fortunately, there are a few signs you may be ready to start taking benefits in 2023.

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1. Your savings are on track

Social Security benefits are designed to supplement your retirement income, not serve as your only source of income. Most retirees, then, will need a hefty stash of savings to enjoy retirement comfortably, even with the help of Social Security.

Exactly how much you should save will depend on many factors, such as your age, your expenses, and how many years you expect to spend in retirement. Because savings goals can vary wildly from person to person, there’s not necessarily a single benchmark to aim for.

It’s also wise to think about how a potential recession could affect your savings, as your retirement fund could take a hit if the stock market drops further. If your savings are already falling short, a recession could potentially make it more difficult to retire right now.

2. You’ve checked your estimated benefit amount

It’s possible to check your future Social Security benefit before you begin claiming. To do so, you’ll need to create a mySocialSecurity account, then check your online statements. If you qualify for benefits, you should see an estimate of your benefit amount based on your real earnings.

Checking your benefit amount can make it easier to gauge how much you’ll need to rely on your savings. If you find that you’ll be receiving less than you expected from Social Security, you can decide whether you still want to claim benefits now or wait a year or two.

3. You know how your age will affect your benefits

Your estimated benefit amount assumes you’ll begin claiming at your full retirement age (FRA). While your exact FRA will depend on the year you were born, everyone’s will fall between age 66 and 67.

If you begin claiming before your FRA (as early as age 62), your benefits will be permanently reduced by up to 30%. On the other hand, if you delay claiming past your FRA (up to age 70), you’ll receive your full benefit amount plus a bonus of up to 32% per month.

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding what age to file for Social Security. But if you’re planning on claiming in 2023, be sure you know how your age will affect the amount you receive.

4. You have a strategy with your spouse

If you and your spouse both qualify for benefits, it may be wise to come up with a strategy for when each of you will file.

For example, one of you may choose to claim early to have some extra income early in retirement, while the other might delay benefits to take advantage of those larger checks.

Also, keep in mind that if one partner passes away before the other, the surviving spouse could be entitled to the deceased person’s entire benefit amount in survivors benefits. If you’re the higher earner and you have reason to believe your spouse could outlive you, it may be worthwhile to consider delaying benefits to give them higher payments later in life.

Social Security benefits can go a long way in retirement, but the right strategy is key. If you’ve done your research and have a plan in place, you may be ready to start taking benefits this year.

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